Prepare to Be an Executor

So you’ve been named as the future executor in your parents will…what does that mean? And how are you supposed to prepare to be an executor?

The executor of the will is a very important role. You will be the person in charge of closing the deceased’s estate and making sure all of their wishes laid out in their will are followed.

“It can often take up to two years to complete your executor duties and close the estate.”

Scot Dalton, CEO of ERAssure

It’s a big job and the more prepared you are for it the easier it will be in the future when you’re hunting down passwords and contact information.

What should I know about being an Executor?

Most Canadians choose their children as their executors, so the odds are most of us will have to fill the role one day.

You could be the sole executor of the will or you could share the responsibilities as a joint executor, typically with a sibling.

It’s not a glamorous job – in fact, it comes with a lot of financial and legal responsibility. That’s why Canadians commonly secure Executor Liability Insurance to protect themselves from possible estate disputes.

What can cause an estate dispute?

leading indicators of estate conflict

As you can see, most estate conflict is caused by the dynamic between the beneficiaries and executors.

It’s a sad reality that when emotions are high and relationships are strained, people can end up losing family and friends fighting over possessions like the family cottage, dad’s car, mom’s diamond earrings, and items of sentimental value.

Your job as the executor is not to take sides, but to carry out the testators instructions in the will as accurately as possible.

We recommend you connect with a financial and legal professional your family trusts so that they are ready to assist you with interpreting the will, when the time comes.

What are my Executor duties?

When you become an Executor, you’ll have a host of duties to perform which typically take about two years to complete.

I know that sounds like a lot – that’s why preparing yourself in advance will make your job much easier. Here are some very typical Executor tasks to give you a better idea:

  • Prepare, organize, and pay for funeral arrangements (many people leave these preparations in their will so it’s done for you.)
  • Arrange care of pets.
  • Publish an obituary.
  • Collect important estate information like SIN numbers
  • Obtain keys to any owned property and consider changing the locks.
  • Collect passwords to social media accounts, subscriptions, email, telephone billing, etc.
  • Create an inventory list of all valuable possessions (jewellery, family heirlooms)
  • Review the will.
  • If there are any charitable donations specified in the will, notify the organization
  • Complete the current year’s tax return.

You can see a full list of Executor duties here or check out the complete Executor Guide on how and when to complete them.

How can I prepare to be an Executor?

Take the Free Executor Preparation Course

We’ve created a free, quick-and-painless course to help you learn the essentials about your future executor role and prepare any information you’ll need to complete it.

Imagine searching through stacks of paper and desktop files trying to find passwords to things like online bank accounts and social media profiles?

Save yourself the headache.

Take the course today, it’s 100% free.

Executor Preparation Course by ERAssure

Recommended Resources

In addition to taking our free Executor Preparation Course, we recommend you use the following resources to answer any questions you may have about your future executor role:

We also have a free library of estate planning resources for Canadians that you can use for will preparation, inheritance planning, and other activities.